Lilliquist Named Pitching Coach

The St. Louis Cardinals announced Friday afternoon that Derek Lilliquist will take the reins as pitching coach while Dave Duncan takes his leave of absence.

The organization announced Duncan would take the leave of absence to tend to his wife, Jeannie, who has been recuperating from brain surgery.

Lilliquist took on the duties in August last season when Duncan took a leave of absence for several weeks to be with her after her surgery.  Dyer Miller will take on Lilliquist’s role as bullpen coach.

Here’s more on the move per the Cardinals.com.

Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch talked with GM John Mozeliak about Duncan and the future. Here’s a little bit of what Mo had to say on the situation he knew was could very well happen this season:

The club described Duncan’s leave as open-ended within a statement issued Thursday night. Following today’s announcement, general manager John Mozeliak acknowledged that Duncan will not serve as pitching coach for the entirety of the upcoming season.

As for Duncan’s possible relationship with the club beyond this season, Mozeliak said, “Time will tell. We’re not closing the door to anything.”

Duncan notified Mozeliak of his decision to step aside earlier this week and the club has agreed to assume Duncan’s salary as pitching coach. The 2012 season represented the second installment of a two-year contract that also included an option for 2013.

Mozeliak indicated that Duncan’s decision did not come as a surprise. Shortly after manager Tony La Russa’s decision to retire, Duncan made clear to Mozeliak that he was willing to return only if allowances could be made for him to care for his wife, who was diagnosed with a brain malignancy last August. The club readily agreed, but Duncan recently became convinced that he could not fully commit to both his professional duties and serving as Jeanine’s primary care-giver, a role he did not wish to delegate.

“I just know how he viewed his family,” Mozeliak said. “When you think about all the sacrifices spouses have to make in this business, it did seem this was going to be the natural decision.”

Mozeliak met with manager Mike Matheny Friday before the club issued its announcement. Given Duncan’s leave of absence last summer, Mozeliak acknowledged he had prepared contingencies. “I’ve always had it in the back of my mind,” he said.

Then the team’s first-year bullpen coach, Lilliquist, 45, took over for Duncan on an interim basis last August when Jeanine’s condition was first diagnosed. Duncan returned to uniform for the final game of the regular season then remained in the dugout for the team’s 18-game postseason run to the World Series title.

And Chris Duncan had this to tweet about his mom earlier today:

That is a relief to know, but our thoughts and prayers remain with the Duncan family! Family is always first.

Miranda Remaklus is lead St. Louis Cardinals contributor to Aaron Miles’ Fastball. She’s also senior reporter at Aerys Offsides. Follow her on Twitter, @missmiranda. 

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